(March 26, 2020 / JNS) Kohelet Yeshiva High School, an Orthodox Jewish school in Merion Station, Pa., began fabricating special protective face shields for medical professionals on the front lines battling COVID-19, using its 3D printers in its state-of-the-art Fabrication Laboratory (“Fab Lab”).
Its first batch of the protective face shields have been delivered to doctors and a major hospital in the Philadelphia community, Lankenau Medical Center in Wynnewood, Pa.
According to Kohelet Yeshiva head of school Rabbi Dr. Gil Perl, the school’s innovative Fab Lab has been a hub of activity this week, despite the fact that school is currently closed.
Ordinarily used for multi-disciplinary, project-based activities in conjunction with its STEM and arts programs, the Fab Lab was transformed into a production facility as its 3D printers began producing prototypes of protective face shields that have since received medical approval from the infectious disease prevention team at Lankenau.
The project is being overseen by Kohelet art teacher Daniel Ostrov and his wife, Stephanie Cole. Kohelet science chair Diane Glickman Weintraub also played a role in the initiative.
“Helping those in need is central to our mission as a day school, and the need for personal protective equipment right now is overwhelming,” said Perl. “Our small high school lab won’t solve the shortage, but if we can inspire others to do the same, then perhaps together we can.”
Although the school was able to begin creating the face shields, they needed button-holed elastic in order to complete production. A call for help went out to the local community via social media; shortly thereafter, the school had enough of the special elastic to continue.
According to Perl, production capacity with the current prototype will likely be 20 to 30 shields per day, depending on the availability of materials.
Kohelet’s next major need will be rolls of Acrylic PET-G .020 or .040 (any size over 12” x 12”). The school located a plastics company in northern New Jersey that carries it and is hoping to get some shortly, though it’s still seeking local suppliers who might have inventory.
“We’ve had requests for the protective face shields pour in from doctors as far away as New York,” said Perl. “While we’d love to service everyone, our capacity is going to be limited. We’d like to first make sure that everyone in our extended Kohelet community who is working on the front lines of the COVID-19 fight and needs a face shield has one. Our second priority will be our local hospitals.”
Kohelet is working on a second prototype where all of the major parts are made using the school’s laser cutter rather than the 3D printers, which would speed up production time.
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